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Boeing delivered 601 planes in 2012, highest number since ’99

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Updated: February 5, 2013 6:25AM

Boeing Co. reported the second-highest number of net commercial airplane orders in its history last year, when it delivered the highest number of planes since 1999 — a boom time before the bust and two recessions.

With those numbers, the Chicago-based aerospace giant appears set to overtake its rival Airbus as the world’s largest plane maker for the year. The last time Boeing delivered more airplanes than Airbus was 2002, and the last time it landed more net orders was 2006.

Buoyed by a revamped 737, Boeing said it booked 1,203 net commercial airplane orders last year and delivered 601 airplanes. Its unfilled commercial plane orders stood at 4,373 at the end of the year — the most in its history.

Its record year for net new orders was 2007, when it received 1,413.

Airbus has not yet released its 2012 delivery and order numbers, but as of the end of November, it had received orders for 585 planes and delivered 516.

Boeing said its 737 program broke the record for orders for any Boeing model in a single year with 1,124 net orders, with its next generation 737 MAX accounting for 914 of those orders, bringing total orders to date to 1,064.

The MAX is a more fuel-efficient version of the 737, the world’s best-selling airplane. Boeing has said airlines operating the plane will see a 13 percent fuel burn improvement over today’s most fuel-efficient single-aisle planes and an 8 percent operating cost per seat advantage over tomorrow’s competition. The first of the planes are expected to be delivered in 2017.

The 737 MAX is designed to compete with Airbus’ A320neo, which had a head start, entering the market in late 2010. At the time, that made Airbus the only company in the industry offering a more fuel efficient, next generation or new engine option single-aisle airplane.

Boeing, which had grappled with years of delays on its new 787 Dreamliner, said it delivered 46 of the planes.

The company said in December it plans to boost commercial airplane production rates 25 percent over the next 18 months.

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